Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein trav­els across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, the United States, Britain, Greece, and Australia to witness the reality of disaster capitalism. He discovers how companies such as G4S, Serco, and Halliburton cash in on or­ganized misery in a hidden world of privatized detention centers, militarized private security, aid profiteering, and destructive mining.

Disaster has become big business. Talking to immigrants stuck in limbo in Britain or visiting immigration centers in America, Loewenstein maps the secret networks formed to help cor­porations bleed what profits they can from economic crisis. He debates with Western contractors in Afghanistan, meets the locals in post-earthquake Haiti, and in Greece finds a country at the mercy of vulture profiteers. In Papua New Guinea, he sees a local commu­nity forced to rebel against predatory resource companies and NGOs.

What emerges through Loewenstein’s re­porting is a dark history of multinational corpo­rations that, with the aid of media and political elites, have grown more powerful than national governments. In the twenty-first century, the vulnerable have become the world’s most valu­able commodity. Disaster Capitalism is published by Verso in 2015 and in paperback in January 2017.

Profits_of_doom_cover_350Vulture capitalism has seen the corporation become more powerful than the state, and yet its work is often done by stealth, supported by political and media elites. The result is privatised wars and outsourced detention centres, mining companies pillaging precious land in developing countries and struggling nations invaded by NGOs and the corporate dollar. Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein travels to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea and across Australia to witness the reality of this largely hidden world of privatised detention centres, outsourced aid, destructive resource wars and militarized private security. Who is involved and why? Can it be stopped? What are the alternatives in a globalised world? Profits of Doom, published in 2013 and released in an updated edition in 2014, challenges the fundamentals of our unsustainable way of life and the money-making imperatives driving it. It is released in an updated edition in 2014.
forgodssakecover Four Australian thinkers come together to ask and answer the big questions, such as: What is the nature of the universe? Doesn't religion cause most of the conflict in the world? And Where do we find hope?   We are introduced to different belief systems – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – and to the argument that atheism, like organised religion, has its own compelling logic. And we gain insight into the life events that led each author to their current position.   Jane Caro flirted briefly with spiritual belief, inspired by 19th century literary heroines such as Elizabeth Gaskell and the Bronte sisters. Antony Loewenstein is proudly culturally, yet unconventionally, Jewish. Simon Smart is firmly and resolutely a Christian, but one who has had some of his most profound spiritual moments while surfing. Rachel Woodlock grew up in the alternative embrace of Baha'i belief but became entranced by its older parent religion, Islam.   Provocative, informative and passionately argued, For God's Sakepublished in 2013, encourages us to accept religious differences, but to also challenge more vigorously the beliefs that create discord.  
After Zionism, published in 2012 and 2013 with co-editor Ahmed Moor, brings together some of the world s leading thinkers on the Middle East question to dissect the century-long conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians, and to explore possible forms of a one-state solution. Time has run out for the two-state solution because of the unending and permanent Jewish colonization of Palestinian land. Although deep mistrust exists on both sides of the conflict, growing numbers of Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and Arabs are working together to forge a different, unified future. Progressive and realist ideas are at last gaining a foothold in the discourse, while those influenced by the colonial era have been discredited or abandoned. Whatever the political solution may be, Palestinian and Israeli lives are intertwined, enmeshed, irrevocably. This daring and timely collection includes essays by Omar Barghouti, Jonathan Cook, Joseph Dana, Jeremiah Haber, Jeff Halper, Ghada Karmi, Antony Loewenstein, Saree Makdisi, John Mearsheimer, Ahmed Moor, Ilan Pappe, Sara Roy and Phil Weiss.
The 2008 financial crisis opened the door for a bold, progressive social movement. But despite widespread revulsion at economic inequity and political opportunism, after the crash very little has changed. Has the Left failed? What agenda should progressives pursue? And what alternatives do they dare to imagine? Left Turn, published by Melbourne University Press in 2012 and co-edited with Jeff Sparrow, is aimed at the many Australians disillusioned with the political process. It includes passionate and challenging contributions by a diverse range of writers, thinkers and politicians, from Larissa Berendht and Christos Tsiolkas to Guy Rundle and Lee Rhiannon. These essays offer perspectives largely excluded from the mainstream. They offer possibilities for resistance and for a renewed struggle for change.
The Blogging Revolution, released by Melbourne University Press in 2008, is a colourful and revelatory account of bloggers around the globe why live and write under repressive regimes - many of them risking their lives in doing so. Antony Loewenstein's travels take him to private parties in Iran and Egypt, internet cafes in Saudi Arabia and Damascus, to the homes of Cuban dissidents and into newspaper offices in Beijing, where he discovers the ways in which the internet is threatening the ruld of governments. Through first-hand investigations, he reveals the complicity of Western multinationals in assisting the restriction of information in these countries and how bloggers are leading the charge for change. The blogging revolution is a superb examination about the nature of repression in the twenty-first century and the power of brave individuals to overcome it. It was released in an updated edition in 2011, post the Arab revolutions, and an updated Indian print version in 2011.
The best-selling book on the Israel/Palestine conflict, My Israel Question - on Jewish identity, the Zionist lobby, reporting from Palestine and future Middle East directions - was released by Melbourne University Press in 2006. A new, updated edition was released in 2007 (and reprinted again in 2008). The book was short-listed for the 2007 NSW Premier's Literary Award. Another fully updated, third edition was published in 2009. It was released in all e-book formats in 2011. An updated and translated edition was published in Arabic in 2012.

J Street broadens public debate on Israel

My following article is published today in Online Opinion:

Distinguished South African judge Richard Goldstone wrote the UN report on Israel’s December/January war against the Gazan people. It detailed war crimes by both Israel and Hamas and demanded both entities fully investigate the serious charges of targeting civilians and infrastructure.

“Pro-Israel and pro-peace” lobby J Street, an 18-month-old group that held its first conference in Washington DC in late October, backed a bipartisan congressional resolution that slammed the Goldstone report and called on Washington to “oppose and work actively to defeat one-sided and biased action” in the UN regarding Goldstone’s recommendations.

Is this what J Street means when claiming it wants to “broaden the public and policy debate in the US about the Middle East?” In reality, Israeli crimes are shielded from accountability once again, further undermining its legitimacy.

After its four-day conference it’s clear the new “movement”, of which Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami speaks, is conflicted and desperate for change. The event attracted more than 1,500 people: from devoted Zionists to activists, anti-Zionists to 1948 fighters, Palestinians to Rabbis and bloggers, to the elderly. Many participants craved inclusion inside the tent, sick of spending years marginalised for not toeing a hardline, pro-settler, pro-Israeli government mindset.

J Street wants a two-state solution and “Jewish, democratic state” but many attendees, a vocal minority, felt deeply uncomfortable even with the concept of a Jewish state. Although most of the many panels did not engage on issues such as boycott, divestment and sanctions, a one-state solution, the siege on Gaza and complicit IDF soldiers in the West Bank, I heard countless audience members speak about the concept of justice for all, not Zionist benefits only for Jews.

Dan Sieradski, formerly of website Jewschool, said during an unofficial blogger’s panel that, “as a Jew we’re being asked to support the undermining of international law and human rights and blindly support Israel. That’s why many young Jews are turning against Israel.”

J Street allowed these discussions to take place but proscribed script boundaries on debate. Gaza and Hamas were largely ignored. Goldstone was slammed. The corrupt Palestinian Authority was praised as a partner in peace. Barack Obama was the only hope to bring peace.

Unlike the leading Zionist lobby group, AIPAC, which could never acknowledge that an Israeli occupation of Palestinian land even exists – something J Street did constantly, though always in the context of impeding a long-term future for a “Jewish, democratic state” – it was hard to escape the conclusion that Ben-Ami felt both invigorated and petrified with the passion unleashed at the conference. He told me that his views are “mainstream” and Jews wanted vigorous discussion over Israel and its future.

Praise is due for this sentiment. The toxic nature of American public debate over the Middle East has impeded honest appraisal for debates. Even during the J Street conference itself, countless politicians, such as Illinois Representative Jan Schakowsky, spoke about an Israel that doesn’t exist; an Israeli in their minds always striving for peace. The Palestinians were an after-thought at best, though some politicians did acknowledge the financial penalties from the Jewish community if politicians ever dissented from the official, Zionist line.

Nobody seemed to acknowledge the problem of America siding so strongly with one side in the conflict at the expense of the other. Most Palestinians I met in the West Bank and Gaza in July were under no illusion about Washington’s priorities and it wasn’t for their well-being.

The sickness within Israel society itself was not ignored. Ami Ayalon, former politician and head of the secret service Shin Bet, told a packed audience that the urgency of finding a two-state solution was lost on many Israelis and Americans. The alternative, he feared, was an increasingly radicalised society and religious, Jewish fundamentalism. He called, like Gideon Levy in Haaretz argued a few months ago, for a referendum in Israel on whether to end the occupation once and for all or maintain its apartheid infrastructure indefinitely.

The final day of the conference saw hundreds of delegates make their way to Capitol Hill to lobby politicians on key J Street talking points. It was stressed in the briefing notes that reaching a two-state solution “is both a fundamental American interest and essential to the survival and security of Israel as a democracy and home for the Jewish people.” The fact that half a million Jewish settlers now live on occupied Palestinian land surely makes such a prospect impossible.

The need for Jewish introspection over Israeli criminality is both essential and morally proper but angst-ridden deliberation won’t solve the Middle East crisis. Clear-headed acceptance of historical wrongs and Zionist culpability is the only way to tackle the impasse. J Street undoubtedly represents a fresh challenge to the stranglehold of doctrinaire Zionism. There is room in American life for diverse views on Israel, Judaism, Zionism and Palestine but talk is no longer enough.

J Street is a Zionist organisation and proudly so. That is its right. But let’s be clear about the desperate need to consider alternative thinking to the failed 1990s Oslo myths that talked about peace and reconciliation but merely accelerated the colonial project.

The situation has only worsened since.

one comment ↪
  • dprosenthal

       Putting aside thousands of years of history and the question of  which people actually were on the land first and longest,  the United Nations, in their infinite wisdom or lack thereof, decreed a tiny scrap of land in the Middle East as a homeland for the Jewish people. It wasn't much but th Jews were thrilled. They were immediately attacked from all sides by other Arab nations, who confidently told the local residents to get out of the way while the new state was destroyed and then to return to occupy all of the land, including what was designated as Israel.  The plan would have worked except that by some miracle,  the Jews won.  Attactks have continued over the past 60 years, with similiar results, thus allowing  Israel to conquer and attain much more territory than was previously allotted to them. Right or wrong, this has always been the result of wars in which one country conquers another and lays claim to the land.  No other nation has ever been expected to simply return the spoils of war out of the goodness of their hearts and in the interest of peace. (this might be a good time to recall what many other countries did to the indigenous people in the conquered land.)

           However unusual, Israel did try to trade land for peace, forcefully removing the Jews from Gaza and turning it over to the Palistinians. The result was that Gaza became a safe launching pad for shooting rockets into Israel –  not a good sign that a peaceful solution could someday be reached.)

            When Israel had had enough, they invaded Gaza with great force.  Many civilians were killed and injured, but that is hard to avoid when the militants use schools, hospitals, and other populated areas as thier armories and base of operations.

          No, Israel has not always taken the 'high road' and is certainly not above criticism. They have their own share of extremists and crazies,  and many of their governmental decisions have been wrong as well. However, they have come to the realization that the Palistinians don't really want a peaceful two-state solution to this conflict – they will only be satisfied when they control all of the territory and can rid the land of  Jewish influence and the Jews themselves. Thus, the situation is unlikely to inprove until and unless the Palistinain people can find a way to oust their extremist leaders, control their terrorists, and establish a democratic system of government with whom Israel can negotiate and rely upon to uphold their own agreements.